Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Movie Review #325: "99 Homes" (2015)

Movie"99 Homes"
Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
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An out of work construction worker named Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) was just evicted from his family home. Now forced to live in a hotel with his mom and son, Dennis is desperate to find work. The only man to offer him a job is Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), the real estate broker who just handled his eviction and personally kicked him and his family out of their house. In order to earn money, Dennis goes to work for Rick, evicting other families so he can put his family back in their home. 

This is the kind of movie that'll make you feel dirty and heavy after watching it.

Let us start by saying right out of the gate that "99 Homes" is a fantastic film. It had very little advertising in our area and it's a damn shame because more people need to see this movie and we fear it will go unnoticed. Though fantastic, it is also massively heartbreaking to watch with a subject matter like this. It's a movie that takes place a couple of years after the 2008 housing crash. Here, we watch people get evicted from their homes over and over as their pleas for help fall on deaf ears. As notices go ignored and families get displaced in an often gut-wrenching fashion, the police are on the side of the realtors and the courts will hardly give people the time of day to rectify their situations. If you've ever bought a home, been foreclosed on, paid rent, had any dealings in real estate, or know someone who has, this movie will hit you extremely close to home and might even make you cry like it did me as I was emotionally moved to tears watching an elderly man being evicted from his home because of his reverse mortgage.

In the past, we haven't been fans of either Andrew Garfield or Michael Shannon, but both of these actors do a stupendous job in this film. Michael Shannon was the perfect choice for the cold, very smarmy, emotionally vacant real estate broker Rick Carver. He shows a level of unfeeling indifference as the poor decisions and failures of others have made him a massively wealthy man who essentially has money coming out of his pores. Shannon, when angry, has one of the best fumingly mad faces in the business; his nostrils flare ever so slightly, his gaze goes dark and his eyes narrow, pointing at the audience like daggers so you know he means business. Immediately after this film ended, I told BigJ that I think we need to reevaluate our relationship with him as an actor because he was just so excellent here, surely we have been wrong in the past. Andrew Garfield is not so cold-hearted as Dennis Nash and is quite a sympathetic character. Rick evicts Dennis, his mom, played by the wonderful Laura Dern, and Dennis' son from their long time family home in a scene that just about breaks you spirits about 10 minutes into the movie. Just a day or two later, Rick winds up offering Dennis a job. Wanting so desperately to save their family home and with no other work available, he takes it. At first, Dennis is nothing more than a handyman, but this quickly escalates as Rick sees a yearning in Dennis' eye to make money to provide for his family. As small jobs become big ones, Dennis is eventually put into Rick's shoes as he quickly turns into the person delivering eviction notices and earning commissions on cash for key policies, where their company pays those in foreclosure to stop fighting and walk away from their home while leaving it in presentable condition for a measly $3,500 dollars. We as the audience anguish and empathize every time someone is removed from their home, as does Dennis, and the guilt builds inside of him with each passing day, though he must remember why he's doing all of this awful work in the first place.

As we said before, this is the kind of story where you feel like you have to clean the muck off after watching it. Don't go into this film expecting anything but drama and a whole lot of it. Also, know that in the end, it doesn't give viewers full closure when all is said and done as its ambiguity leaves a lot of unanswered questions. This is not one of those movies about a twisty plot, it's a narrative about characters, Dennis Nash in particular, and his complete character arch. He is a character that goes through an emotional roller coaster of the harsh realities resulting from the banking deregulation and we share in his sadness as he ventures on his tumultuous journey. "99 Homes" is sad, intense, suspenseful, and so much more. It excels in its simplicity but relishes in its gripping timeliness, its excellent execution, its weighty construction, and its tremendous acting.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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